Fukui is the ultimate destination; it boasts beautiful ports with crystal clear waters and mountainous land full of wildlife. It is diverse enough to please adventurers in nature, and has scientific spots like fossil excavations. Here is your quick guide to the Fukui Prefecture giving you an insight into its rich culture.
Where to Go & What to Do
The Tojinbo Cliffs are the perfect place for a walk and a great view of the Sea of Japan. The Tojinbo Cliffs are located along the Sea of Japan coast, north of Fukui city and were formed by volcanic activity about 12 to 13 million years ago. It’s impressive to walk on the darkly colored pillar-shaped structures and to see hexagonal and pentagonal rocks. Take a stroll down right up to the unmarked edges of the bluffs to find small ponds to play in. If you don’t mind an early start, taking the Tojinbo Cliffs pleasure boat is a great way to begin the day and feel like you earned an extra postcard view. Due to its easy access, the most dangerous areas of the cliffs, have earned an unpleasant reputation as one of the most popular suicide spots in Japan. However, with the efforts of local volunteers looking out for potential-suicide people many deaths have been prevented.
In addition, after Pokemon GO was released, many visitors started to talk to each other and this has also had a positive effect on reducing incidents. You might be overwhelmed by small souvenir shops and vintage restaurants in front of parking lots, but it’s easy to find a quiet spot for observing the cliffs and the waves below by following the walkway.
Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, built in 2000, is certainly the place to learn about Fukuiraptor, Fukuisaurus and Fukuititan. The museum is one of the largest museums dedicated to dinosaur research and education and is the center of dinosaur research in Japan. Elementary school students can have a class to go fossil excavating and students are very familiar with dinosaurs. Fukui Prefecture produces world famous paleontologists.
The museum was designed by Kisho Kurokawa who was a legendary architect from the 1990’s to the early 2000’s. Kurokawa’s design has neo-futuristic modern theme from that time, but it never disturbs the natural surroundings. When you enter the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, you will encounter a life-like Tyrannosaurus Rex which means we immediately experience the highlight of the exhibition at the entrance. However, the excitement continues till the exit while walking the main floor and imagining living in the Mesozoic era, the age of dinosaurs.
We joined outdoor excavation activities for one hour to search for fossils. You can bring one piece back as your souvenir, but you’ll need to donate it back if it’s valuable as research material. We visited Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum for a whole two days, but a 3-4 hour tour including fossil excavation is doable.
Tsuruga Visitor Center of The Japan Atomic Power Company
Historically, Tsuruga prospered as a port for konbu seaweed that was transported from Hokkaido and processed. The processed konbu was then transported to Kyoto and Osaka. Tsuruga is not be the capital of Fukui, but it is certainly the most renowned destination for visitors. Liner ships have operated since 1902 between Tsuruga Port and Czarist Russia, Vladivostok and the Red Brick storage was built in 1905. The red brick storage is the heart of the city.
In a short one-day visit, I checked out Tsuruga Visitor Center of The Japan Atomic Power Company to discover the history and current situation of our Atomic Power. The power plant is located a short drive from Tsuruga Station. We saw the first power plant which was the first light-water type nuclear reactor, built in 1966 and decommissioned in 2015, and the second plant in operation to provide electricity.
The Sea of Japan is a rich repository of fisthing sites and one of the great fishing locations is Tsuruga Port. Though embankment fishing will keep you entertained for hours, try to venture off the shore and onwards to the Tsuruga Port raft fishing, where you will find black porgy and a really unique style of fishing you won’t experience elsewhere.
Raft fishing is said to have originated in Fukui Prefecture. When people started farming shrimp with rafts, black porgy gathered and people started fishing from the raft. Recently, you can use a bathroom on the raft which is directly connected under the sea.
Nakai Minshuku Inn
For our stay, we checked in to Nakai Minshuku Inn with a view of an affluent residential neighbourhood right on the water. The reason why I picked Nakai Minshuku Inn was its location near the raft fishing, but it was the perfect place to enjoy local produce and chat with the landlady. We stayed in adjacent, cozy Japanese-style rooms which were identical rooms with tatami mats. Nakai Minshuku Inn is a personal favorite of mine when staying at Minshuku.
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
We drove to Kanazawa Station from Fukui and stopped at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art where you can enjoy unique modern arts.
How to get there
If you start from Kyoto, take JR Thunderbird train to Fukui Station (90 minutes). Fukui Station is located only a 45-minute ride from Kanazawa Station, so you can visit both Fukui and Kanazawa, however a car will be necessary to arrive in Tsuruga Port (one hour) or Tojinbo Cliffs (50 minutes) from Fukui Station. It snows a lot from December to March but it’s the best season for Tanner Crabs and Echizen Crabs. Be sure to bring your snow boots.